Have you ever wondered where you come from? Ancestry DNA offered me the chance of reviewing their DNA testing service and finding out my geographical genetic make up.
When people used to take the piss out of me at school for having ginger hair I used to think at least I know where I come from from how I look. Imagining my ancestors to be fiery Celts or Ancient Britons, my red hair is a visible throwback to my British ancestors. Or so I thought. Would this ruin my romantic vision of myself?
The testing is really simple. Everything comes in a simple, small box and you spit saliva into a tube, up to a certain level, screw the top on to release a blue liquid into the sample, I guess to stabilise it, and then you put it into the pre-paid box and post.
It said it would take 6-8 weeks and I received regular e-mails updating me on the process and when I could expect it. I was fast-tracked because I was press and it wasn’t long before my results came through.
I was told I have quite a high percentage of Great British DNA in comparison to the average Brit. (See the chart left).
My results were 61% Great Britain - Northern England & the Midlands - this is correct as my paternal grandmother was born in Bury, Manchester. I was expecting more from the East of England as that’s where my surname is from.
Then finally, 1% Asia South. It circles India, so it could be a connection with the British Empire, but definitely not something I know directly about.
So, ultimately, I’m 99% from the United Kingdom. I’m a fucking pedigree! I jokingly told my friends I’ll be downloading the forms for Crufts for next year. Expect sponsored posts from Pedigree Chum coming soon!
But, seriously, none of this really matters, but it’s something interesting to think about and also opens up conversations within your family.
I sent Ancestry DNA a few further questions after my results had come through.
Can consumers ask further questions or is this another cost?
There should be enough information online, but there is a support team that can help with consumer questions free of charge.
How far does it go back?
What’s the margin for error?
AncestryDNA uses advanced scientific techniques to produce your results. We measure and analyse a person's entire genome at over 700,000 locations. During the testing process, each DNA sample is held to a quality standard of at least a 98% call rate. Any results that don't meet that standard may require a new DNA sample to be collected.
Then we compare your DNA to one of the most comprehensive and unique collections of DNA samples from people around the world, to identify overlap. As our database of DNA samples continues to grow, you could receive updates with new information.
Is my DNA stored somewhere now?
The results of your DNA test are stored in a secured database — your AncestryDNA results are stored in a secured database, which employs a number of security measures. As well as protecting the information from unauthorised access from those outside of AncestryDNA, we strictly limit access to this database from within the company as well.
The lab processing your DNA doesn't have access to your name, address and other contact information — DNA samples are tested in a secure third-party testing lab in the United States. We separate your name from your DNA sample throughout the testing process. Instead, we use a unique Activation Code provided in your kit to track your DNA through the testing process and in storage.
Your DNA sample is securely stored — After testing is complete, any remaining DNA from your test is archived and stored in a temperature-controlled, secure facility with 24-hour monitoring and limited access.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) — United States law (the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act or “GINA”) generally makes it illegal for health insurance companies, group health plans, and most employers to discriminate against you based on your genetic information. Learn more about GINA here.
You have the choice to delete your DNA test results — Once a DNA test result is deleted, that choice is permanent. You will no longer see the results in your account. Also, your DNA matches will no longer see your username among their list of matches. So be sure you want to delete a DNA test result before you do it, as there is no way to recover the data after it’s deleted.
If you have given your consent to participate in ongoing research efforts and you delete your DNA results, your consent will be withdrawn and your information will not be used in future research. Please note, however, that information cannot be withdrawn from studies in progress, completed studies, or published results.
Your raw DNA data is secured by a number of security measures while in our possession. For example, your DNA sample is identified only by a bar code—even our testing laboratories don't have your identity. We also store all DNA data in encrypted databases to ensure restricted access, even within the company. These protections will remain for the copy of your raw DNA data that we possess but you will need to secure the raw DNA data if you choose to download it.
Will the ethnicity results tell what information is specific to my maternal or paternal line?
The type of DNA that is being tested looks at ethnicity across both maternal and paternal lines. It does not currently isolate ethnicity results to only your maternal or paternal line.
My results were pretty boring, but they are also believable and fit what I already know about my family. We’re still close to a time when people didn’t move around as much and these geographical areas match.
It costs £79, and I think it would make an interesting gift for somebody who is impossible to buy for. The 6-8 week wait is quite long.
Ancestry DNA obviously want you to sign up for the additional, paid-for features on their website and for you to link into other family trees and information. While the Americans are very much into their ancestry, the British are more confident about where they come from and are less interested in proving their origins.
AncestryDNA says it can estimate your origins to more than 350 ancestral regions around the world—5x more regions than the next leading test.
I enjoyed telling my family and, being from a working class background, it’s interesting how private previous generations were with regards to their origins and also where they came from. This is the time when people's birth certificates didn’t match the name they used on a daily basis.
Somebody has already contacted me from New Zealand saying we have a genetic match on my paternal grandmother, but I’m also slightly cautious receiving e-mails from people I don’t know.
Overall, this was efficient, fun and a correct insight. It reflects the #me culture we currently live in.
Ancestry DNA Kit - £79
Below - My results
Forget snakes, it’s now sunscreen on a plane. I wanted to write this to get my head around what was new and fully understand it.
New research from the Journal of American Medical Association Dermatology has determined that the harmful rays plane passengers are exposed to can put them at higher risk of skin cancer. For pilots especially, wearing sunscreen is of paramount importance. One hour at 30,000 feet could expose pilots to the same amount of UV radiation as a 20-minute tanning bed session would. And, while a passenger certainly faces less exposure than pilots it’s still important to heed the same advice – especially if you’re sitting in the window seat.
Houston dermatologist Dr. Esta Kronberg says when you're on a plane you should always wear sunscreen to protect you from dangerous rays that you probably won't even notice. "The UVB is what causes burning and you know it and you feel it and you tan and the glass blocks the UVB but the more penetrating rays are the UVA and they do more damage," said Kronberg.
“As you are much closer to the ozone layer the sun’s rays are much more harmful,” Matt Gass, a spokesperson for the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), told Telegraph Travel.
“UVA can penetrate window glass and penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB. UVA protection in a sunscreen will help protect the skin against photo-ageing (skin ageing caused by ultraviolet rays, e.g. wrinkles caused by the sun) and potentially also skin cancer,” according to BAD.
TheChicGeek says, "This is more reason than ever to buy a moisturiser with a high SPF and to wear it all the time. To be able to take into a plane cabin it will need to be 100ml and under. Look for products with a high, broad spectrum protection for UVA and UVB.
Simply apply a marble-sized amount to your face, as well as any other exposed areas such as your neck, chest, hands, forearms, and ears at least one hour before you fly. It’s also important to re-apply the product every two hours, especially on long-haul flights and if close to the window.
It's not often you think about reapplying sunscreen during a flight, but this is definitely something to do during a long-haul flight and to cover up the rest of your body using clothes or blankets."
Here are a few ChicGeek reviewed products containing SPF here
More ChicGeek reviewed sun protection products here
Like with anything that becomes more common it doesn’t take long before you know a friend of a friend or someone closer who takes the plunge and has it done. You have lots of questions and you just want somebody you trust to give you the honest lowdown and then you can decide whether it’s something to seriously consider or dismiss and move on.
I’ve been thinking about hair transplants recently. They are becoming much more common, more affordable and are a physical solution to the "problem" of male baldness. There are so many products and supplements targeting the Achilles’ heel of men losing their hair and prey on the desperation to find a solution, but, to me, a physical solution seems the most logical and reasonable answer.
I’m not hung up on my hairloss, but, if somebody said you could have a full head of hair, of course, I would say “yes”. I’ve asked two friends who recently have had the procedure, completely anonymously, their honest thoughts and whether they would recommend it. Here’s what they had to say:
CG: How did the procedure work in practise? Was it painful? Sore?
1) “The procedure took part over the course of two days. Eight hours per day, four hours extracting the hairs from the donor area at the back of the head and four hours implanting the new hairs to the front of the head. Unfortunately, I didn't take well from the meds on the first day so I did feel a level of soreness (they can only put a certain amount of local anaesthetic in the head as it has an adverse effect if they add too much). Discomfort came from laying in the same position for eight hours.”
2) “I had a hair transplant, so the ‘roots’ of my hair were transplanted from one area – called ‘the donor area’ – to the places where hair was missing. The donor area is around the side and back of your head, and the missing areas for me were quite common in many men, the crown and the top of my hairline at the left and right.
They shave the donor area down, they extract the hairs one by one and place them on a petri dish. Incisions are made in the areas that will be receiving the hairs. Obviously you’re under anaesthetic – that is, arguably, the most painful part – so you can’t feel anything, but you can most certainly hear it. It sounds like a knife cutting a raw carrot. So it’s not that it’s painful, really, it’s just that you have a rush of adrenaline because you’re expecting it to be painful. Obviously it can be quite bloody, so it’s not for the faint-hearted…
Don’t forget that each hair was transplanted individually in my case – I felt this would look better than transplanting sections of hair (grafting rather than transplant).”
CG: Was it how you expected? Did you get the results you wanted?
1) “When you have a surgery like this, you don't believe that you can get amazing results as it seems too good to be true. But, a year on I am thrilled with my results and have certainly grown in confidence.”
2) “I think it was exactly how I expected it to be, perhaps a little quicker. I was expecting it to take about eight hours and I was probably done in six, including lunch. The thing with this procedure is it takes up to eight months to really show properly, so you get a bit impatient waiting to see results. It’s also good to go into it knowing that you may need a second and third transplant for it to really take, or to get the kind of density you want.
“But now, almost nine months on, I actually have hair growing in what were previously bald spots. And not just fuzzy little hairs, we’re talking long actual comb-aside hairs. It makes me laugh because obviously you’re not sat there watching it, and suddenly one day you go ‘hang on, I don’t actually have bald spots any more’.
“I think the most telling thing is that I always, always used to wear a hat. It was kind of my ‘thing’. But I don’t anymore. I didn’t make a conscious decision, I just kind of stopped. And I realised that it had really affected my confidence and this transplant had changed all that.
In fact, I’m growing my hair long now. Just to see. Because I can!”
CG: What has been - if any - the biggest disappointment(s)?
1) “After the donor hair is implanted and it starts to go back, after about two months your hair sheds to the same as it looked before. You have to be really patient to see growth, which happens at a slow pace.”
2) "The only disappointment I can say, and this is nothing to do with the actual procedure and everything to do with my age, is that the new hair – i.e. the hair from the back of my head – is growing in grey and wiry! I suppose I could dye it, but I’m going to embrace being a silver fox.”
“I suppose you could add one thing about disappointments. I had hoped it might be a bit thicker, but I guess that’s down to my age and hair being thinner – and obviously being forewarned that I might need a second transplant to get the desired effect. But having said that, I have hair where previously I had none and that’s pretty amazing!”
CG: Would you say it was worth the money?
1) “I was lucky enough to be in a position where I was a case study for the clinic, so did not pay - however, the surgery was valued at 8.5K and I feel it would be worth the money if I was in a position where I had to pay for it.”
2) “It’s costly, but not something that you want to do on the cheap - you’ve got to get it done properly. So I would say, personally in my case, it was worth the money.”
CG: Would you recommend it?
1) “Absolutely, it's improved my confidence beyond belief.”
2) “I would definitely recommend it to anyone bothered by hair loss that can afford the procedure.”
CG: Is there any on-going maintenance or follow ups?
1) “You have the opportunity to start again with your hair, so it's important to use good shampoos (Aveda), wash hair daily, hair masks and hair oils to keep it in top condition.”
2) “The first week is slightly odd, as you have to sleep as though you’re sitting up in a plane – you can’t lay flat on your back. And it’s your natural instinct to do that. You have to spray the transplants all through the day, and you can’t wash it for the first few days. A minor inconvenience for what you’re ultimately going to get though. And it’s quite gratifying after a week or so to be able to knock off the tiny scabs… Too much information? Well, you are having multiple incisions made into your scalp!”
So, overall, it seems very positive. It does feel like a big commitment as the operation is lengthy and I would like to be reassured I could stick it out. The prices are still fairly high, but from these testimonies it seems to be worth it.
In the modern Orwellian landscape it often feels like it’s a battle of the overly confident male egos. From Trump to Putin to Kim Jong-un, puffing your chest out and beating it hard has become an everyday occurrence. I thought - hoped - we’d left this in the last century, but it feels like we’re reliving the worst of the 20th century, every day.
There’s nothing wrong with being and feeling confident. It’s what gets you ahead, or so we are told. But, a delusional sense of entitlement and pride often ends with many cases of cutting your nose off to spite your face.
Last night, Zegna launched a new collection of premium fragrances. Titled #ElementsofMan, it contains 5 new fragrances named “Talent”, “Integrity”, “Passion”, “Wisdom” and "Strength".
Left - Wisdom, anybody?
While I can see the overall idea, it doesn’t feel very contemporary. Where’s “Vulnerability” & “Sensitivity”?
It feels like the Donald Trump collection of fragrances, which is ironic because Trump’s first fragrance, "Donald Trump, The Fragrance” was produced in partnership with Estée Lauder, who also produce the fragrances for Zegna. Launched in 2004, he also had others, now discontinued, called “Success” and “Empire”.
He’d probably wear all five of these, layered á la Jo Malone, yet he’ll think it was his original idea. More is more when you’re reeking of “Strength” & “Wisdom”, don't you think? No room for "Arrogance"?
It feels like an idea dreamt up between Lauder HQ in “Never Sleeps” New York and Zegna HQ in “Macho” Milan with little thought for the rest of the world. Successful men do wear Zegna’s clothes, you need a certain depth of pocket to be able to afford it, but let’s leave the 80s arrogance to Gordon Gekko.
Right - The full Zegna #Elementsofman line-up
“Talent”, for example, in isolation just seems a little strange. My British modesty and cynicism couldn’t wear a fragrance called “Integrity” without a little smirk.
Zegna is a premium menswear brand and they manufacture the most beautiful Italian clothes and fabrics worn by some of the world's most successful men. I think men today are more complex than these allow. These, at £180 for 50ml, are a premium fragrance offering, it just feels a shame that they’ve handicapped them with their names before you’ve even opened the bottle.
In the modern world, where the male body is constantly objectified, you’d be right for thinking there isn’t much we haven’t seen. Naked men are an everyday occurrence on TV, advertising and social media. But, there is one part we haven’t seen or appreciated before, until now.
Left - Nackt, 2, 2014, Wolfgang Tillmanns from the recent Tate Modern exhibition
Is it time to appreciate the male undercarriage? Are men’s bollocks having a hirsute moment?
These aren’t the manicured porn-star-type bollocks from the nougties, but masculine, hairy and au naturel. Artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Celia Hempton are focusing on the sack and crack, giving them some love, in the visual sense.
Right - Celia Hempton (2013)
The male ball sack is going mainstream. Definitely not social media friendly - damn your American uptightness - but it’s the new the erongeous zone and is a signifier of the growing appreciation, and acceptance, of the male derriere.
Stephen Fry once said his favourite statue was 'David' by Francis Derwent Wood, on the Hyde Park Corner roundabout, because of his arse. Niche gay publications like Butt and the celebration of gay art at Tate Britain in the 50th year of the part legalisation of homosexuality in 'Queer Art' all make 2017 the year of the masculine arse crack.
So, put that groomer and razor away, the male undercarriage is going mainstream, just don't mind the hairy bollocks!
Below - ‘Ben’ (2017) by Celia Hempton from Counter Editions
It was at the launch of the new men’s grooming destination, Beast, - more info here - in Covent Garden that I was introduced to Leo Crabtree, the man behind the Beaufort London fragrance brand. There were a few samples of his fragrances in the selection of products to try and I was impressed by the originality of the scents. Historically based, they are a dramatic concoction of rich and smokey scents inspired by Britain’s maritime history. I wanted to know more, so, TheChicGeek asked Leo a few questions:
CG: What’s your background and why and when did you start Beaufort London?
LC: My background is mainly in music and I studied history at university. BeauFort London came about as a vehicle to market some homemade grooming products I was making around 4 years back. I found myself getting bored of the stuff that was available at that time and I thought I could do a better job. This project then developed into something a bit different, particularly when I started to learn about making fragrance. This area really interested me and I’ve kind of followed this path for the last 3 years.
CG: Where does the name come from? 1805 is a special year for you, why is that?
LC: The brand’s name comes from the Beaufort Scale which was thought up in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort - a way that sailors could gauge and report the wind strength. It’s still in use today.
This idea of invisible strength resonates and seemed appropriate for a brand that initially was only selling very firm moustache wax. The metaphor works nicely for fragrance too.
Aside from this detail, 1805 was also a pivotal year for British fortunes at sea… following the win at the battle of Trafalgar (October 21st 1805) British sea power was established and continued unchallenged for a century or so… I think these naval events still echo in the way we Brits perceive ourselves. And there’s something about the early 19th century that fascinates us - it seems to pop up a lot in popular culture at the moment.
CG: How many fragrances are in the range?
LC: The ‘Come Hell or High Water’ Collection consists of 5 Eau De Parfum each representing a different aspect of our relationship with the sea: Tonnerre (Trafalgar/warfare), Coeur De Noir (adventure stories / tattoos), Vi Et Armis (The opium / sea trade), Lignum Vitae (ships clocks / time) and Fathom V (The Tempest - weather). We are launching a 6th later this year too and we recently released a leather discovery set of the whole collection - refillable 7.5ml vials of each which is really popular.
CG: What is the idea behind the packaging?
LC: Well the caps were at one point going to be made out of pieces of old ships, but this didn’t work all that well. So, now, they are made from ash, which is a bit more stable and safer to reproduce.
The boxes ended up becoming almost like books or possibly sarcophagi - this is a pretty important thread in all this. The past, history, books, it’s all in here. I like to include snippets of things I’ve read, pictures inspired by the events that inform the fragrances. Each box is embossed with a little latin phrase which I found on a medal that was given to those who fought at the battle of Trafalgar. All these little things build a coherent picture of the brand I think.
CG: I like Tonnerre, which is inspired by the battle of Trafalgar, how do you get that smokey effect?
LC: Lots and lots of birch tar. This is an intensely smokey material made by boiling birch sap. This has been used a lot in the past to create a ‘leather’ effect (Famously in Chanel’s 'Cuir De Russie’ - historically Russian soldiers used Birch tar to waterproof their boots). In the case of Tonnerre the perfumer uses it in far far higher concentration than anyone has before to produce a gunpowder effect. I love the intensity of it… and the smell of tar immediately reminds me of boats.
CG: Any highlights from the others? What is the most popular and why do you think that is?
LC: We actually use birch tar in a lot of our fragrances. That smokey tar effect is almost our signature so if you’re looking for fresh you’re in the wrong place…
Vi Et Armis is really popular, I think because it’s so ‘in your face’ and unusual - dark as all hell. And Fathom V is an intensely strange aquatic fragrance which seems to be doing well too. We use a lot of strong materials, a lot of wood, tobacco, spice and booze. I think people like our brand because we offer something very different to traditional fragrances.
CG: You also sell other products like candles and moustache wax, how did these come about?
LC: The candles were due to popular demand, we had a lot of people who loved the scents asking if we could make them, so we tried it, and it seemed to work. Again, it hasn’t really been about planning these products, they just seem to make sense, and so we do them. I like experimenting with ideas.
CG: Has it been easy to produce in the UK?
LC: The perfume industry is rooted in mainland Europe for sure, but there’s a rich history of British perfumery and some really interesting newer British brands.
It was always a key aspect of this project that we would only work with British companies, and that has made things tricky (and almost certainly more expensive) at times. But it can be done, and I’m proud of it.
Our perfumers are based just outside of London, our boxes are made by hand in Sheffield, our bottles are filled and packed in the Cotswolds, the candles are made in Derbyshire and the moustache wax cases were made in Coventry.
CG: What do you think about the current perfume industry? Is it welcoming to niche producers? Is there too much product?
LC: When I first launched the range we went to Paris fashion week to have a look around. I was talking to a guy who works for a very long established French perfume house and he said to me quite unequivocally, “now this is war”, which seemed pretty ridiculous at the time. However, as time has passed, I think he’s right. There’s so many brands all trying to get a piece of the pie and the pie isn’t all that big in the first place. New launches happen all the time and it seems like (as with everything else) attention spans are short and the temptation is to churn out ’newness’ (a word I particularly hate) to grab attention fleetingly.
In the next few years, we may see some of these brands falling away as saturation point is reached. In my mind, starting a brand is the easy bit. Establishing longevity and maintaining engagement with your customer over a significant period of time is much harder… Time will tell.
CG: Is there any advice you would give to men about choosing fragrance or how they apply or use it?
LC: As with anything, the most rewarding experiences are those you invest some time in… do some research, get some samples of things that intrigue you. Spend a bit of time getting to know the fragrance in different environments as the best fragrances can develop massively throughout a day. Don’t rush… I’ve always said that YOU should wear the fragrance, don’t let IT wear you which is particularly important with these strong, heavy fragrances. There just too much for some people… they should blend with your character somehow rather than take over.
CG: What’s next for Beaufort London?
LC: Put it this way, we have been researching Georgian vices… I can’t say much more than that but it’s going to be an interesting couple of years!
Over the centuries, the humble beard has been through many styles and transformations, but British men continue to love them and use them as a means of expressing their individuality. So far, we’ve witnessed everything from the glitter beard bomb of 2016, to intricate plait designs and wax styling wonders that would make most catwalk models jealous. Just when you think there’s a lull in beard trends, some crazy new twist is put on them to bring them back to the here and now.
So, which style do you go for when it’s time for a trim? Whether it’s the artistic goatee, the traditional gentlemen’s moustache, a bohemian style with funky dyes, or the full fisherman’s beard, each of these styles have something to say about your personality. However, it appears your facial hair can also be determined by where you live. In the following infographic, not only will you learn about the most popular beard trends of 2017 in Britain, but you’ll see why those who hail from Leeds are more likely to opt for the chin curtain, those from Sheffield prefer the mutton chops look, and Geordie’s choose the goatee. Not only that, but you’ll be able to see how our facial hair trends in the UK compared to those overseas, and some handy ideas on grooming.